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The Image Consultant owner Gregory Dodson advises clients on professional appearance. He has been a hairstylist for 35 years.
The Image Consultant owner Gregory Dodson advises clients on professional appearance. He has been a hairstylist for 35 years.

Consultant spiffs up personal, office looks

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Given the economic climate, it’s little wonder business leaders are looking for any advantage they can get. But as they work to gain clients and trim unnecessary expenses, they may be overlooking something important: themselves.

Enter Gregory Dodson, owner of The Image Consultant.

Dodson, who has been a hairstylist for 35 years, got into the image-consulting business five years ago, a few years after he and his family relocated to Springfield from Kansas City.

For an average of $25 an hour, Dodson helps clients look their best, from giving advice on hairstyles or styling their hair to advising women about their makeup to teaching his customers how to shop or taking them shopping himself so they can find fashion-forward attire that truly fits.

“It’s all about the fit when it comes to clothing,” Dodson said.

This year, Dodson expanded his services to include helping entire businesses present a more polished and professional appearance.

While working with an image consultant may seem an exercise in vanity to some, Dodson said it’s important to understand the role image plays in others’ perceptions. An overly casual, shabby or dated look, for example, won’t inspire confidence.

“If you project yourself as being confident and successful, that’s maybe how you would project the rest of your business,” Dodson said.

Not projecting a solid and consistent image can present stumbling blocks for business leaders and their companies, Dodson said, nothing that those who don’t feel self-confident won’t be as visible in the community, because they are less likely to participate in networking groups or other activities.

Dodson said his clients historically have found him by word-of-mouth, but he doesn’t just help those who work in the corner office. Sometimes, it’s a younger client who needs help creating a polished, professional image.

“It’s not necessarily the person who has the BMW in the garage,” he said. It’s somebody – especially now when business is tough – (who is) looking for any way they can to improve business. They’re looking for an inexpensive way to make it better.”

Dr. David Sommerfeld, a nephrologist at Springfield Nephrology Associates, sought Dodson’s help about three years ago when he found himself in a khakis-and-navy-sport-coat rut.
Sommerfeld said his wife-to-be connected him with Dodson shortly before their wedding.
While he knew he probably needed to update his image, Sommerfield wasn’t really interested in making the effort.

“I wasn’t aware of what I could do and how easy it could be,” he said. During two or three shopping trips that were a couple of hours apiece, Dodson taught Sommerfeld how to select the right garments and accessories for his desired look. He spent a few hundred dollars on a couple of suits and accessories.

The right style and fit, Dodson said, don’t have to carry hefty price tags.

“I shop for a living,” he said. “I end up saving (clients) a lot of money. You don’t have to go to that specialty boutique and buy outfits.”

Dodson said he’ll take clients shopping at all kinds of stores, from boutiques to the mall, depending on the desired look, fit or price range. Sometimes, he will recommend that his clients go out of town to get what they need.

“I enjoy it more,” Sommerfeld said of shopping now. “Knowing some of the simple things he talks about, like textures in shirts – you don’t ever think about that stuff.”

At Deerfield Veterinary Hospital, 2850 S. Ingram Mill Road, Dodson is working one-on-one with husband-and-wife owners, Drs. Ned Caldwell and Denise Roche, and their nine employees, to create a more polished and modern image.

Dodson said he is working with the predominantly female Deerfield team on hair and makeup, and he’s working with the whole crew to choose new uniforms to replace the khakis and polo shirts they’ve worn for the past six to eight years.

“I pointed out to the owners that they needed to be the first ones to change,” Dodson said. “If they don’t change, you can’t expect your employees to follow suit,” Dodson said.

Caldwell said he felt working with Dodson was a great investment for his business, though the total cost will depend on how long Dodson works with the clinic.

“There’s a lot of investments that a small-business owner makes, but the people who are working for them are always the best investment you can make, especially in a service industry like ours,” he said. “It’s about raising the bar.”[[In-content Ad]]

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